2007 ACADEMY AWARD NOMINEE: BEST FOREIGN FILM — WINNER: BEST DIRECTOR (BERLIN FILM FESTIVAL) — After 18 years dug into a heavily fortified mountain deep in occupied Lebanon, the last Israeli soldiers enduring constant bombar... more »dment at the site of the ancient crusader stronghold called Beaufort receive orders to abandon their posts, detonate the warren of bunkers in which they ve tenuously clung to life and victory, and come home. Amid redoubled shelling from Hezbollah, the fort s brash, impossibly young commander Liraz (Oshri Cohen) struggles to keep himself and his men safe from a faceless enemy that would turn withdrawal into massacre, and transform a just cause into a lost cause. An unusually dexterous ensemble cast and director Joseph Cedar s (Time of Favor) visionary combination of gritty objectivity, lucid sudden violence, and keen sensitivity to the tangle of terror, duty, and sacrifice common to soldiers of any era, results in a film so realistic, so intense, it verges on the surreal. (LA Times). Suspenseful, poetic, and heartbreakingly transcendent, the Oscar ® nominated Beaufort is a movie of tremendous power (Entertainment Weekly) and one of those once-in-a-decade war pictures that reminds us what's worthwhile about putting the ritualized barbarism of combat onscreen in the first place. (New York Sun)
"This Israeli film captures some of the deep ambiguities of the novel it is based on but must struggle with the challenge of externalizing a story that is mostly internal, told in the novel by its central character in a rich flood of thought occupying his brain as he deals with the impossibilities of the military situation he and his men have been thrust into. Also problematic, the camera robs the characters of their youth, as the actors portraying them are not really young enough to convincingly play 18-to-20 year olds. Meanwhile, the individual personalities of the young men, the humor, adolescent angst, quirkiness, and youthful playfulness, disappear behind the layers of protective gear they must wear 24/7. The one advantage of this film version of the story is that you can see the layout of the installation - a warren of narrow reinforced passageways - as well as the panoramic views from its mountaintop location.
If you have read the novel and want to relive the experience, relishing again a Catch-22 vision of warfare, this film may be a disappointment. For the most part, it tells its story straight, and stripped to the novel's fairly simple plot line, there is much less to enjoy. Missing in particular is the wild, absurd, often raunchy humor of the novel - the wacky carry-on of Zitlawi especially. Outtakes from the film, which are included on the DVD, suggest that the filmmakers tried to get cinematically out of the box - the men searching outside the fort for the body of a slain comrade, or bathing together in a stream - but the decision seems to have been to maintain the claustrophobia by keeping the action inside the walls of the fort as mortars randomly fall around them, fired by an unseen enemy. For Israeli viewers, this has every potential of symbolizing the nation's hold on an embattled piece of earth at the cost of maintaining a defense force that militarizes a large percentage of its own youth. It raises what must be uncomfortable questions.
Still, it's one of the best and most ambitious Israeli films I've ever seen. Its two hours take you to a time and place that represent what is often missing in news coverage. But read the book."
George W. Lynn | 11/13/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A very interesting film, if not a particularly stirring one. It focuses on the last days of the Israeli occupation of Lebanon, similar to Vietnam for the US, more or less endless with no ability to actually win in any meaningful way at this stage of the game. The soldiers are dug into the heights around the Crusader fort Beaufort. Everyone knows they're leaving, but politics precludes them from evacuating immediately. So, they're just up there as sitting ducks, albeit well armored, fortified ducks, taking incoming mortar rounds, with no ability to fire back or do much of anything beyond keeping their heads down. Fear mixed with boredom, and a big dose of frustratation is pretty much the story, as they never actually see the enemy or fire a single round back, but hang on to do their duty until they can leave. You'll enjoy the film if you're interested in the subject matter or at least familiar with the war, but for many this will prove dull. "
Tough and disturbing movie
Alan A. Elsner | Washington DC | 06/14/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In 1982 on the first day of their controversial invasion of Lebanon, Israeli commandos stormed and captured the Crusader castle of Beaufort which had become a Palestinian fortress. Eighteen years later, as this movie begins, a group of young Israeli soldiers is preparing to leave, bringing the whole unhappy Lebanon adventure to an end. The filmmakers shot this in another Crusader castle, Kalat Nimrod, on the Golan Heights. Within its walls, they contructed a bewildering rabbit warren of underground passages, reinforced concrete barriers and outposts from which the soldiers keep watch on the enemy. There is a palpable atmosphere of clastrophobic despair in this movie. We never glimpse the enemy and the Israelis fire not a single shot during its two-hours. They cower under a constant barrage of Hizbollah mortar fire, asking themselves what the hell they are doing there. They watch as a collague is blown to smithereens trying to dismantle a mine to open a road that goes nowhere which nobody uses. They see two colleagues killed by guided anti-tank missiles to which the Israeli army has no answer. Their commander, a kid called Liraz, tries to bolster his men's determination and belief in the mission -- but he himself no longer understands the mission. There is a certain mystique about the site itself -- but it turns out that the famous capture in 1982 may have been the result of a military blunder. Israel's invasion of Lebanon was a tragic mistake. It was designed to make northern Israel safe from Palestinian rockets but the Palestinians were simply replaced by an even more implaccable enemy, Hizbollah. In 2006, Israel made the same mistake again and fought the Second Lebanon War against Hizbollah, proving that the country's political leaders had learned nothing. Hundreds of lives were sacrificed for nothing. This movie, brilliantly designed, photographed and acted, is a metaphor for these twin tragedies."
Good acting but way too slow and drawn out.
Lawrence J. Lawton | St. Louis, MO USA | 11/12/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"From a history perspective I found the story to be interesting. From a theatrical viewpoint I found the acting to be good but the directing left a lot to be desired. History some might argue can sometimes be boring while telling the true story line. Regardless this movie moved entirly too slow for my taste."
No-one wants to be the last to die in a lost cause
BernardZ | Melbourne, vic Australia | 01/17/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The scene is a heavily fortified fort in Lebanon where the Israeli soldiers are to abandon the place and detonate the place soon. The decision is made. Whatever the reasons for coming and staying, it is over and they are leaving. The film shows their lives during these last few weeks.
To the soldiers in the fort. There is no purpose is dieing just to stay a bit longer. I found it interesting that to the higher command and to many others, the fort represented something. It had a history. But to the soldiers all they want to do is go and survive. When someone dies, they question the purpose. While the officer in charge, is trying to keep them together.
I found the scenes of the social attitudes of the Israeli soldiers and commander interesting.